October 11, 2021 8:30 pm

World Mental Health Day is observed yearly on the 10th of October , the aim of commemorating this day is to raise awareness of Mental Health issues and to mobilize efforts in support of Mental Health.


The theme of this year?s awareness campaign is ?Mental health care for all: let?s make it a reality?. The theme this year underlines the pressing need to focus sufficiently on health beyond the physical in a sustained way, in a world still struggling to fight the coronavirus.


As Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, I am cognizant of the effects of Mental Health in all three areas, especially labor. The prevalence of Mental Health issues that affect individuals? physical and social well-being makes dealing with mental health integral to achieving public health goals.


From a labor perspective, poor mental health not only decreases a person's employability and exacerbates the already difficult labour-market situation on Sint Maarten, but a number of studies have demonstrated a cyclical link between financial worries and Mental Health problems. Lack of sufficient finances and/or job loss can result in the loss of health insurance, and the loss of health insurance of-course reduces a person's access to health care, which can result in untreated health conditions and the inability to receive preventive care. The stress and mental drain related to this domino effect can affect a person's mental well-being.


In other situations, there are persons for whom problems at work are often the triggers or root cause of their mental illness. Bringing about awareness of mental health issues is not enough to alleviate the issues in this area. However, great progress can be made by strengthening awareness and the implementation of tools within organizations/businesses, to help employers and employees deal with psychological problems at work.


Increasing access to mental health care and treatment for persons to receive culturally competent care is one of my top priorities, along with reducing the cultural stigmas and negative perceptions about mental illness, which often discourages individuals from getting help. Attitudes about mental health issues within our small community affects the willingness of persons to seek help. Both religious ideas and cultural perceptions can shape how people feel about getting mental health care.


There is comfort to be found in the fact that I am diligently working on addressing mental health disorders and improving the community?s well-being by way of a comprehensive approach, policies and activities that foster mental health, and also  improving access to mental health services.


As a community, I like to think that we are our brother's/sister's keepers. Therefore, I urge each of you to do your part by being helpful, kind and empathetic towards others. Use your words, gestures and social media presence as positive tools, rather than a means to target or attack others. The effects of social media on self image and a person's will to live is underestimated. Social media platforms have proven to have a negative impact on a person's mental health , due to cyberbullying, isolation, Anxiety-depression and inadequacy about their life. Our community have been plagued by several suicides within the last years, which is a telling indicator of how disconnected from each other our society has become, that persons may have felt they had no where to turn, no one to talk to and no other way out of what they were experiencing. Let us unite for global mental health, not only today but everyday.


I would like to leave you with some helpful ways to improve your Mental Health daily;


? Stay positive
?Maintain healthy online habits
? Practice gratitude, which means being thankful for the good things in your life.? 

? Take care of your physical health, your physical and mental health are connected. 

? Exercise often, get enough sleep and eat a well-balanced diet. 

? Connect with others by creating strong, healthy relationships. 

? Develop coping skills, which are methods you use to deal with stressful situations; such as meditation. 

? Most importantly it is also important to recognize when you need to get help. If you don't know where to get treatment, start by contacting your primary care provider. Talk about it, as therapy can save a life.


Talking about mental health gives freedom to seek help, locate mental health services, find people who can relate, and move toward well-being. Let us continue the conversation about mental health. Together, we can work to stop the stigma surrounding issues many of us face.


?What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.? ? Glenn Close.